Participatory Design Experiment: Storytelling Swarm in Hybrid Narrative Ecosystem

Participatory Design Experiment: Storytelling Swarm in Hybrid Narrative Ecosystem

Kai Pata (Tallinn University, Estonia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-040-2.ch029
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This chapter describes a participatory design experiment that is influenced by the swarming activity. The chapter introduces a new approach to writing narratives in virtual learning communities of the social Web 2.0 and contrasts it with traditional storytelling approaches. In the participatory design experiment we developed a hybrid virtual storytelling playground that augments the real world – a hybrid ecosystem of narratives. It consists of social software tools freely available in the Web, such as microblogs, social repositories of images, and blogs, the real locations in the city, and the storytellers who leave their digital contents. The results of writing narratives as a swarm in a hybrid ecosystem are presented. In our experiment, instead of bending old novel formats into the hybrid ecosystem, the evidences of new evolving narrative formats of this hybrid space were explored.
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Hybrid Ecosystem

The concept of hybrid ecosystem consists of two parts. First, hybrid refers to the structural property of the world that is achieved by deliberate blending of geographical spaces with collaborative environments such as blogs, microblogs, wikis, social repositories and -networks. In this new environment the borders of geographical spaces and participatory software environments can be blurred or eliminated whenever purposeful, allowing embedding artifacts across the borders to create an augmented and more interactive world in the context of community activities.

The second, ecosystem term together with its explanatory sub-concepts place and niche describes how such hybrid geographical places and participatory software environments together with their users also represent a complex functional system. Place is a personally meaningful spot in the surrounding environmental space. The place involves conceptual construction and knowledge building. The augmented concept of place not only refers to a geo-position, but to the holistic conglomeration of events, objects, emotions and actions of an individual in the place, and includes both natural, e.g. geographical elements. In our experiment we constructed a setting in which individuals defined places by associating artifacts such as impressions, historical content, images etc. with geographical locations. A feasible method of associating contextual metadata with space information is artifact-centered, in which the contextual annotation is added to the artifacts that are simultaneously geo-located. With tags, that is, descriptive terms associated with content items by members of the community, geographical positions can be related with meanings and activities shared by the members, and places can be searched by such aspects.

It is possible to create immediately such locative content using GPS-equipped mobile devices that are situated simultaneously in a physical and a virtual environment (Tuters & Varnelis, 2006). Locative content can also be accessed from virtual environment and used to trigger social interactions with a place (Tuters & Varnelis, 2006; Kaipainen & Pata, 2007). Many common social Web applications have integrated locative functionalities, e.g.,,, while most of the blogs and wikis still lack this possibility. For a community this kind of link between geographical and virtual spaces and meanings is a way to build their identity, determine their particular territory as a place, and distinguish themselves from other communities. Notable is, that this community territory is not defined only by their location in geographical or software places. This territory is also defined by meaning- and activity aspects, which bring in extra dimensions to the space. For marking this abstract space we can use niche term.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ontocoordinate: An ontocoordinate is the position of an entity on an ontodimension and expresses a value and descriptive feature associated to the entity.

Perspective: Perspective is a personal perception of ontodimensions that can be fixed with ontocoordinates in an ontological space.

Ontospace: An ontospace is a spatial ontology – it is a flexible set of metadata that describes a domain of information by means of spatially conceptualized ontodimensions. Ontospace provides one representation of hybrid ecosystem.

Ontodimension: An ontodimension corresponds to a descriptive feature of an entity within a domain of information, also interpretable as class membership.

Swarm: A swarm is a community of an hybrid ecosystem in which every participant is responsible for its individual actions and relies on reading the signals from the ecosystem and from the swarm members, which causes the emergence of shared intelligence and enables swarms to accomplish global tasks and form complex patterns through simple local interactions of autonomous agents.

Hybrid Ecosystem: Hybrid ecosystem is an ecologist view to the dynamic system consisting of an augmented space in which activities of people with various artifacts in geographical locations using participatory social software create a feedback loop to this space that influences the evolution of communities and determines their interaction in this space.

Niche: Niche is a range of perspectives of the community members that define a subspace in a hybrid ecosystem, where a particular community can be effective in taking actions.

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